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News From Interop

Interop 2008 -- less circus, more substance. The major themes revolved around data centers. Switching and virtualization were top of mind with announcements from Cisco, Extreme, and various software vendors supporting virtualization. Some interesting demos and road-mapped items were discussed as well.
I got the skinnny on Trusted Computing Group's Trusted Network Connect Metadata Access Point, IF-MAP specification, which I have already mentioned. It was interesting to hear Steve Hanna, co-chair of the TNC and Stu Bailey, co-editor of IF-MAP, discuss not only the reasons behind the design of IF-MAP, but also the larger-use cases. I hope we will start seeing the standard show up outside of NAC.

Riverbed didn't have any news, but it is, in some sense, leading the charge for branch consolidation by offering virtualized hosts on its RSP platform aimed at critical services like DHCP and DNS. While only a few partners have been announced, I bet we will see more. Combined with the WAN optimization on the Steelheads, you get the benefits of branch and data center consolidation along with the benefits branch survivability.

Extreme Networks X-650 is a top of rack or end of row 1U, 24-port 10-GB switch that is stackable amongst itself along with the rest of Extreme's switch line. Using a custom cable, the X650's can be stacked with a 256-GB backplane. The models come in SFP for $19,995 or 10GBase-T which representatives said would be less than $1,000 per port.

Bay Microsystems and Yotta Yotta have teamed up to offer VMware VMotion moves across a WAN. VMotion is really designed to move running VM within a data center LAN. The requirement being both ESX servers share a single SAN. Yotta Yotta provides the block level SAN replication, what they call coherent caching, across the WAN. Bay Micro provides a high-speed, low-latency network and use Infiniband to move the running VM from one data center to another. In their demo, they claimed a 1,000 mile WAN was represented by a WAN with 5 ms one-way delay, which seems overly optimistic to me, they moved the VM in about 5 minutes with only a small disruption in processing at the end. My more practical colleagues asked why you would want to use VMotion between remote data centers and I didn't really have an answer, but heck, it's cool.

Juniper, like Riverbed, Cisco, and others, is starting to head down the branch consolidation path with ISM200 module which contains its WXC wan optimization product that runs within the J-Series router. Along with Junos 9, Juniper is trying to catch up in this space.

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